It’s for the children: not content to ban Happy Meals alone, SF reaches into the pants (or diapers) of constituents

Via Hot Air headlines: San Fran activists try to ban infant circumcision

Self-described “civil rights advocates” say that a ballot proposition to ban circumcision is on track for gathering signatures, meaning that San Franciscans may vote on the measure this November.

The proposed law is being spearheaded by local resident Lloyd Schofield, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

It’s part of a national push to end the procedure, which some say is steeped in tradition but poses risks and has little medical benefit. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association do not recommend routine circumcision. […]

Although some studies indicate that circumcision reduces the risk of STD transmission, others have indicated that the procedure is not worth the associated risks and diminished sexual function.

Several Jewish organizations have weighed in against the ban as well, pointing out that circumcision rituals play an important historical role for many Jews. Schofeld counters that under his proposed law, adults would be free to opt-in to circumcision, but infants would not be allowed to have the procedure until they reach 18.

If it passes, those caught cutting foreskins would face a fine of $1,000 and a year in prison. Only people over the age of 18 would be allowed to have their foreskins removed.

Considering the studies that show circumcision reduces STD transmission, I’d think liberals were all for it. But the taint of religious practice obviously negates any connoted benefit. It’s in the Bible, so it’s obviously bad!

One question: does this ban Muslims from mutilating little girls? Doubtful, as that would violate the multiculturalist elan predominant in liberal stronholds like San Francisco, no?

Alternate title: why does one of the most homosexual cities in America want to ban the “surgical AIDS vaccine“?

Schofield is pushing the circumcision ban even though multiple lines of very strong evidence — from epidemiology, physiology, microbiology and three large, internationally recognized “gold standard” clinical trials — converge on the conclusion that removing the foreskin drastically cuts a man’s risk of becoming infected by HIV. It also reduces his risk of other sexually transmitted diseases and cancer of the penis and his female partners’ risk of cervical cancer. Moreover, the operation is safe, takes less than half an hour, heals in weeks and is so common that 80 percent of American men are circumcised. Nor is there scientific evidence of untoward effects, either immediately after healing or later in life, on men’s health, sexual performance or desire.

The three controlled clinical trials took place in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, in areas where circumcision rates are low and HIV levels high. More than 11,000 men, most of them young, all of them HIV-negative, uncircumcised and willing to undergo the operation, were randomly assigned either to be circumcised immediately by a doctor, or to be in the control group and wait for circumcision until after the study ended. The three trials were all stopped early, however, because of interim results so strong — a 60 percent reduction in infection risk — that researchers could no longer ethically withhold a procedure shown to be so beneficial. After the South African clinical trial had run for 18 months, for example, 49 of the 1,446 members of the control group had contracted HIV. But just 20 of the 1,431 in the circumcision group had become infected.

“Researches could no longer ethically withhold a procedure shown to be so beneficial.” Yet San Francisco voters will have the opportunity to withhold the beneficial procedure from an entire population.

Exit question: will educated parents who understand the proven medical benefit seek the procedure elsewhere, or will they be cowed by liberals into thinking their sons can make the decision later? The procedure is much more daunting as an adult. pjHusband relayed the story of a colleague who faced multiple infections after repeated deployments to third-world locales where hygiene is a foreign concept. Said colleague finally said enough and had a circumcision. He was miserable for weeks. But he never again suffered from health problems in the field. Just sayin’.

UPDATE: a Featured Blog at P&P. Thanks!

UPDATE 2: From the comments below, co-blogger Teachingmytwo’s idea: ok, so let’s ban ear piercing. I’m inclined to agree. Unlike circumcision, which has proven medical benefit, piercing–especially of the heavy stretching variety–has none. Further, it leads to permanent disfigurement and vascular damage of the ear lobe for entirely cosmetic purposes.

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11 Responses

  1. I’ll add that FGM is also illegal under California state law, too, so it’s already illegal in San Francisco. This is a 14th Amendment Equal Protection scenario, not some great liberal conspiracy.

    • There is a great difference in comparing male circumcision to female genital mutilation whereby a girl loses more than a flap of tissue. She loses the ability to urinate normally, and due to extensive scar tissue has infertility problems in addition to grave complications during delivery. The surgery–even if done under sterile conditions which is highly unlikely–poses a health threat.

      As far as great liberal conspiracies, I don’t see this as one, though I do find it highly amusing that liberals on crusades are more likely to restrict the rights of individuals than conservatives. Just sayin’.

      • There is a great difference in male circumcision and female genital mutilation as typically practiced. However, they are the same ethical violation: non-therapeutic genital cutting on a non-consenting individual. Acknowledging that they are the same in kind while generally differing significantly in degree does not diminish the horror of FGM. It merely states that both females and males possess basic rights that should be protected. After all, the laws against FGM criminalize all non-therapeutic cutting, for whatever reason claimed by parents. (Rightly so.) That includes cutting that is less severe than what’s done to males.

        For what it’s worth, I’m not a liberal, either. I think the ban on happy meals, for example, was stupid and offensive. But this proposal is not that. Who is restricting rights here? If females have the right to be free from non-therapeutic genital cutting they don’t consent to, and we hold equal protection as a standing principle of our society, then we must protect the right of males to be free from non-therapeutic genital cutting they don’t consent to.

        Again, who is restricting rights here? The “right” of parents to cut their sons’ genitals? If such a “right” is an actual parental right, then prohibiting parents from cutting their daughters’ genitals is a violation of the same parental right. No such right exists, of course, because parents have no legitimate right to harm their children, even when they do so unintentionally. Thus, the question rests on whether non-therapeutic genital cutting on males is harm or not, not whether or not it offers some subjective benefit. It clearly is harm, as all surgery imposes some level of harm, even when attempting to remedy some malady. But with male circumcision as considered by the proposal, there is no malady involved. Thus, parental proxy consent is invalid. This proposal doesn’t restrict any valid rights. It would protect rights that are currently violated with impunity.

  2. “…does this ban Muslims from mutilating little girls?”

    That’s already illegal in the United States. It’s the Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Act of 1996, signed into law by Bill Clinton. It covers the entire United States, not just one city. In other words, the proposed law in San Francisco would protect non-consenting males – in that city only – from non-therapeutic genital cutting, whereas all non-consenting American females are already protected from non-therapeutic genital cutting.

    “…why does one of the most homosexual cities in America want to ban the ‘surgical AIDS vaccine’?”

    Circumcision is not a vaccine. It reduces risk. The difference is significant. However, it only reduces risk from female-to-male HIV transmission in populations with high HIV risk and low incidences of male circumcision. It has shown no effect on male-to-male transmission. In other words, the results of the study in Africa are not transferable to the United States.

    “Researches could no longer ethically withhold …”

    The study involved voluntary, adult circumcision. When researchers stopped the study, they offered circumcision to the remaining adult volunteers in the control group. That is not the same ethical scenario as circumcising healthy, non-consenting children.

    This law would not “withhold the beneficial procedure from an entire population.” It would allow each male in the entire population to decide individually whether he wants to be circumcised or not, the same protection already offered to females by the Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Act.

    “…permanent disfigurement and vascular damage…”

    Circumcision is surgery. It removes healthy, functioning tissue and nerves. That is permanent disfigurement and vascular damage. Forcing that on a healthy child is excusable because it has potential benefits? Benefits that most likely won’t be needed, and if the male has some problem, less invasive treatments are almost always available? It’s acceptable to force circumcision on a healthy infant because he has a small risk of needing circumcision later? That’s bizarre.

    • Despite the existence of the 1996 law, Muslims wishing to mutilate girls either proceed out of country or do it “under the table” hush-hush in their communities. As a result, the American Pediatric Association proposed a ritual “cutting” done in doctor’s offices as an offering to the pc gods of multiculturalims. After an uproar, they retreated.

      Circumcision is not a vaccine. I am fully aware of that. However, the reduction in STD risk and HIV transmission is great, thus acting like one. It’s called a metaphor. You fail to refer to any substantive study which shows no benefit to gay populations. Even if that were true, the reduction in risk to the vast majority of the population would makes circumcision societally relevant.

      If you don’t like circumcision, don’t do it to your sons. But don’t try to force your own angst at a loss of a flap of tissue onto others.

      • I agree, despite the law, it still happens. Laws are important, but not all-powerful. Even the proposal in SF, which would be promptly ignored by parents and prosecutors. But it’s a step in the right direction.

        I’m also familiar with the AAP nonsense. I wrote against their stance when it happened because they were wrong. But the idea they floated for a ritual nick was less invasive than male circumcision. Of course, it needed to be crushed because it could legitimize further genital cutting by parents.

        I get that circumcision as a vaccine was a metaphor. But it’s a dangerous metaphor. The word “vaccine” implies that circumcised males won’t get HIV. That’s how people will read it if they only read headlines and metaphors.

        As for a study, try this. Among men who have sex with men, “being uncircumcised did not confer a statistically significant increase in HIV infection risk.” But even if I couldn’t find studies, the burden of proof is not on me to defend why people should keep their normal body parts until they can decide whether or not to cut them off. You provided a study on female-to-male transmission. That’s not enough. 1) Condoms. 2) Female-to-male transmission is not common in America. 3) Ethics aren’t dismissed just because of potential benefits.

        I’m not sure what you mean by “the reduction in risk to the vast majority of the population”. This potential benefit from circumcision has no significant bearing on the epidemic in the United States. Anyway, most adult males in the U.S. are circumcised and we are still an extreme outlier among Western nations on HIV infections. Maybe something else is at work?

        Saying “a flap of tissue” suggests to me you’ve never bothered to learn why males have foreskins. Even if we incorrectly assume it serves no purpose, it belongs to the male, not his parents. It’s his right to say whether it’s nothing or not. Saying “if you don’t like circumcision, don’t do it to your sons” ignores the ethical issue of human rights. It’s a violation of the child.

        And circumcision involves surgical risks. Among the complications possible, the most extreme risk (i.e. death) from circumcision is non-zero. The topic is more nuanced than “a flap of tissue.”

  3. […] Political Junkie Mom, SF activists are trying to ban infant […]

  4. One of my cousins got himself circumcised when he was in his 20s for religious reason. (Jewish, but we couldn’t practice in the Soviet Union where he was born.) It was really difficult both emotionally and physiologically. I had a bris for my son when he was a week old, with a wonderful rabbi, and my son did really well. He didn’t cry much and the cut healed quickly. Circumcision is something that has to be done in infancy, imo.

  5. Oh sweet Jesus. What will they think of next?

  6. Oh Good! Can we please also outlaw having ears pierced? Wouldn’t that fall into the same category?

    • Oooh! Especially those horrific gauges! I want to scream when I see kids with giant holes in their ears that can never be surgically repaired. Cultural misappropriation at its finest.

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